Morphine

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Morphine, C17H19NO3

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is a powerful analgesic narcotic drug. It is an opiate - the main derivative of opium. Morphine acts directly on the CNS to relieve pain. Side-effects include impairment of mental performance, euphoria, drowsiness, lethargy, and blurred vision. It also decreases hunger, inhibits the cough reflex, and produces constipation. Morphine is highly addictive. Tolerance and physical and psychological dependence develop quickly.

Morphine is used medicinally as Roxinal, MS Contin, or Morphine Sulfate for severe pain, for relief of certain types of difficult breathing, (rarely) in cough suppressants, and sometimes before surgery.

It was first isolated in 1803 by the German pharmacist Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Serturner, who named it 'morphium' after Morpheus, the god of dreams. But it was not until the development of the hypodermic syringe (1853) its use spread. It was used for pain relief and as a 'cure' to opium or alcohol addiction. Its extensive use during the American Civil War, resulted in over 400,000 sufferers from the 'soldiers disease' (addiction).

Heroin was derived from morphine in 1874. Along with other drugs its non-presciption possession was criminalised in the US by the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914.